Sunday, 14 July 2013

Bacon: a Scientific Thinker

As a scientific thinker we are not to look to him for any particular discoveries. In fact he did not know very well the many problems connected with scientific inquiry in his own time. In some cases he rejected truth, and followed old fashioned and wrong beliefs.

Bacon: a Scientific Thinker

 But his influence as a scientific thinker, cannot be denied and at the same time underrated. The influence exercised by him was naturally of a kind which we should expect from a thinker who had taken the whole field of knowledge as his province. F.G. Selby points out: “Inquirers were naturally gratified by the dignity which he gave to their labours, and encourage by the prospects which he held out. He gave to science a human interest. He gave it high hopes and a definite aim.” Very often the critics of Bacon try to belittle his importance by saying that he made no scientific discovery and his method of inquiry could never become the method of great scientists later on. This argument does not hold much water. The scientific discovery in itself is not so important as the faith that Science is an important field of human activity which could open up the secrets of Nature. Bush, the critic is very correct when he says “Bacon is not historically negligible a scientific thinker. His scientific deficiency does not essentially weaken the force of his message for his time”. Indeed, it was Bacon who substituted the humble and critical interrogation of Nature for the arbitrary concept of traditional authority. It was a very big achievement indeed for a great lawyer, statesman. To quote Bush once again, “he not only summoned men

to research, he brought the Cinderella of Science out of her partial obscurity and enthroned her as the queer, of the world. No one any longer could be deaf to the scientific and humanitarian gospel of experiment, invention, utility and progress”. Thus Bacon made no scientific discovery as Newton and Harvey made. But he laid the solid foundation of science because he was the first man to point out the importance of experiment hi the study of knowledge. He was the first man who laughed at the idea of authority based on scientific observation. Once arbitrary Authority has been replaced by critical Enquiry and Experiment. Science in its true sense had taken birth. Bacon’s contribution in this respect remains unique and outstanding.

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